SITES launches Pilot to test Sustainable Landscape Rating System
The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) is testing a pilot program to determine the effectiveness of a sustainable landscape rating system that is similar to the LEED system used to determine a building's environmental impact. SITES is partnering with the American Society of Landscape Architects, the United States Botanic Garden and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The standards were developed last fall to study methods that not only reduce the impact of landscaping on the environment, but restore and rehabilitate areas affected by urban encroachment.
The sustainable landscaping projects will range from modest park upgrades to multi million dollar overhauls of landscapes covering large areas like college campuses and industrial complexes. The projects must be completed by June of 2012 so they can provide feedback to the SITES project regarding the benchmarks achieved on a 250 point scale for certification on four different levels. The executive director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Susan Reiff, explained that, “We can address the serious environmental challenges the world faces in its existing communities by consciously redeveloping these spaces for ecological health as well as beauty.”